Lamar expresses good will to Chief Colita
On this day in 1839, Mirabeau B. Lamar, president of the Republic of Texas, wrote to Colita, chief of the Coushatta Indians, expressing regret that conflicts had occurred between the Indians and white settlers. The event is notable because it marked a sharp divergence from Lamar's general Indian policy. Unlike Sam Houston, whose administration had attempted to conciliate the Indians--especially Houston's "own" tribe, the Cherokees--Lamar thought that the Indians should be either exterminated or driven from Texas. This animus helped to bring about several of the most serious clashes between Indians and whites in early Texas. Lamar's proffer of friendship toward the Alabamas and Coushattas was therefore a striking exception to his usual policy. Perhaps he was remembering how these East Texas Indians had helped the white settlers to escape from the Mexican army in the Runaway Scrape (1836). In any case, Lamar offered land to the Alabamas and Coushattas and appointed Joseph Lindley as a mediator between the Indians and the settlers. The gesture turned out to be futile, however, for when the Indians saw their land being marked off, they assumed it was for white settlers and abandoned the area; whereupon white settlers took the land.